London: Kieran Powell scored the first hundred of the West Indies tour of England as they avoided an embarrassing defeat against the England Lions on Saturday ahead of next week's first Test at Lord's.
West Indies were facing the possibility of being beaten with more than a day to spare in this four-day match at Northampton. At the start of Saturday's third day, they resumed on 28 for 3 in their second innings, still 166 adrift of the 341 first innings score posted by the Lions, England's 'A' side. But Powell (108) shared successive century stands with Darren Bravo (57) and Shivnarine Chanderpaul (77) and by stumps the West Indies had advanced to 377 for 8 – a lead of 183.
West Indies' batting is considered to be the most vulnerable aspect of their game and the way they folded to 147 all out, albeit in seam-friendly conditions, in the first innings did not augur well for Lord's. Nor did Friday's top-order collapse but Powell and Bravo, whose fifty was his second of the match, both cashed in after they each survived a difficult chance while still in the teens.
Powell, who spent two years at the elite Millfield School in Somerset, where the former pupils also include England's Simon Jones and Craig Kieswetter, said: "I'm pretty much as acquainted with the conditions as anyone else in the team. It's always important to have good days in practice matches and spend as much time as possible in the middle. It is good that we got some time in the middle that was well needed."
However, a cautious Powell added: "You will have to play according to the conditions. We do not know what Lord's is going to provide differently to this ground or any other ground. You will just have to play what you see and hope for the best."
Bravo was first to his fifty, when he lofted England spinner Samit Patel down the ground for his ninth four in 76 balls, before he deflected a glance off uncapped seamer Jack Brooks, playing on his Northamptonshire home ground, on to leg stump shortly after lunch. Opening batsman Powell, in what was only the second first-class hundred of the 22-year-old's career, pressed onto three figures with a 217-ball century including a straight six off Joe Root's off-spin and 13 fours. The left-hander was, however, out not long afterwards when bowled by a turning delivery from Patel.
Chanderpaul, officially the world's best Test batsman, proved typically obdurate but was out in surprising fashion, the left-hander misjudging a ball from seamer Stuart Meaker to be lbw playing no stroke. England are due to name their squad for the first of a three-Test series on Sunday, with Lions captain James Taylor and Jonny Bairstow, who earlier in this match made a century and a fifty respectively, in content_cnion for a place after allrounder Ravi Bopara tore a thigh muscle playing for Essex.